Maxi-Cosi have just released the Elea; a pushchair that could potentially last you the distance without having to buy the ubiquitous buggy. With an ingenious fold, it's a must-have for practical on-the-go parents. We take a dive into the inner working to help you decide whether it fits your lifestyle…
We first came across the Maxi-Cosi Elea at Kind + Jugend in Cologne last September. However the Dorel stand was heaving with buyers from all over the world, so we didn't manage to get close enough to the demonstrations until October when we went to the Baby Show for Trade in London. Here, we had a thorough run through of all the original features of this compact but comfortable pushchair.
Surprising little design features are what makes this pushchair different. The mechanics work well and make life easier, leaving you to deal with the complexities of your day and not an ill functioning pushchair!
What's in the box
The RRP for the Maxi-Cosi Elea is £400
Available in Brown Earth, Steel Grey, Total Black and Intense Red
The best bit about the Maxi-Cosi Elea is the fold. You have to try it to really get it…it's so compact.
With the seat unit in place the fold is reasonably small (they call it the ‘Daily Fold'). Simply press two buttons on the right of the handle and one on the left, then push down. It collapses to flat in a relatively ordinary way.
Without the seat unit in place the fold becomes altogether more compact. Performing the same manoeuvres as with the daily fold, the ‘Optimum fold' is achieved by standing it upright on it's front wheels and lifting the carry handle in between the back wheels. The whole frame contracts horizontally, so you're left with nothing bigger than a small stroller size frame. Adjusting the angle of the handle and removing the back wheels reduced it's footprint even further to a mini 84cms high x 32.5cms wide x 15cms deep. OK, so you still have the seat unit to accommodate, but for the build and the style of the pushchair it's still better than being left with both elements at full size.
Open, by pushing the un-missable, red release button, on your right when the frame is folded and stood vertically. Grab the handle and push down, with your foot, on the grey pedal (centre back axle) that looks like the brake. This easy movement makes the whole frame spring to life with a ‘swoosh' followed by a reassuringly solid ‘snap'.
Another incredibly sensible feature is the front swivel wheel control. Located near the slots for inserting the chair unit, the swivel lock buttons mean you no longer have to trot around the front of your pushchair to lock off the wheels on rough terrain….if you ever bothered! I know I would actually use this feature of my pushchair if it was located somewhere easy to reach like this.
The wheels are hard moulded foam, so you get all the bounce without the risk of a flat.
To suit any height parent, the handle can be adjusted to three angles by the two buttons on each side. They have even thought of including a couple of pegs on the inside of the handle to hang your bag, however, sadly they omitted the bag itself.
The basket is large and easy to access even when the seat is in place.
The brakes are lovely, no nonsense and flip-flop friendly. The red foot pedal on the right; brake on, the blue foot pedal on the left; brake off.
The seat unit can face forward or rearward and is removed by pressing the buttons on either side. You don't have to keep them depressed while simultaneously lifting off the seat, they click into place independently leaving you hands-free to simply lift. Removing fiddly, annoying, engineering practicalities like this are what makes a pushchair really user friendly because they are the bits that are going to rub when you are actually using it.
The seat has an excellent recline; three positions in either direction from sitting upright to completely flat out with a snooze angle inbetween. If you've ever notice the function of a La-Z-boy recliner, the foot rest extends as the user reclines. The Maxi-Cosi Elea does exactly the same thing instead of just tilting. The recline control is placed sensibly at the back of the seat, so it's easy to access and use. Well thought out all round.
The seat is covered in a soft wipeable fabric that is well padded for a comfortable ride and the ‘wings' (like those on an armchair) make sure your child is held in place and has something to lean their head on when snoozing.
The bumper bar is solid moulded plastic with a knuckle hinge. Its easy-release mechanism allows it to act as a gate to let your passenger on or off without having to remove it entirely. The five point harness is standard with padding at the crotch and shoulder.
There are only three accessories that come as standard with the Maxi-Cosi Elea, and they are the canopy, the Baby Nest and the raincover. To make this a successful ‘from birth' pushchair they rely on each other to do their job and give the proper amount of protection required for an infant.
The Baby Nest has been thoughtfully considered. It resembles a swaddling blanket with a head hugger attached. The bottom flap covers the baby then the two wings wrap over the top, resulting in a triple layered protective cocoon. The top layers can be zipped off in the summer so that you are left with a comfortable pushchair liner. Depending on the size of your baby, it would only be useful for the first three to six months when you would then need to upgrade to a footmuff if the season dictated.
The canopy is not as successful at rising to the challenge of infant protection. It has all the right elements, a pop out visor and a mesh/PVC window for viewing your passenger but it's just too small. In the colder months, your baby will feel everything that's more than a slight breeze and in the summer you will need an extra UV shade if you want to protect more than their nose. A parasol is an optional extra that is more of a necessity.
The raincover itself, is an easy-to-fit (no Velcro or poppers to deal with), effective, tailored cover that mimics they style of the hood with the peep through window lining up perfectly with the one on the hood.
The Maxi-Cosi Elea is a gorgeous modern pushchair that not only looks contemporary but performs in the way our modern lives require it to do. All the mechanics work well and won't leave you in tears in Tesco car park when you can't get your fold to work.
It is surprisingly long and quite wide when it's open but this gives it a low centre of gravity that makes it ultra stable. We especially love the ‘Optimum fold', the smooth recline and the flip-flop friendly brakes.
Our only criticism lies with the size of the hood; it really needs to be twice the size. This sounds like a pathetic grumble but the shelter from the wind and the sun are vital for an infant, and accessories to add more protection generally hang from the hood, which when undersized in the first place, makes it more of an issue.